Sister act powers 4th Impact
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - What a journey it has been for this sister act. From being called the Cercado Sisters, then Gollayan Sisters, M.I.C.A., to 4th Power and finally, 4th Impact, the girl group went through not just name changes. They also experienced highs and lows that prepared them well for their “most impactful” achievement yet.

Made up of the Cercado siblings (Mylene, Irene, Celina and Almira) from Santiago, Isabela, 4th Impact just did what many could only dream of — a Top 5 finish on X Factor UK. Now, they’re extending their stay in the UK for a series of gigs this entire December. They’re also set to join the X Factor Tour early next year.

Nevertheless, a lot of their fans are still feeling bad over their exit a couple of weeks ago from X Factor UK. According to the members, they’ve seen on social media videos of kids crying over their failure to make it to the grand finals.

In a phone interview arranged by RTL CBS, which airs the British reality show in the Philippines, the sisters admitted that they’re still feeling a little sad that their X Factor UK quest has ended. However, they choose to look on the bright side of the experience.

Family and friends have kept them positive. Celina said, “Sabi po nila, this is just the beginning…. We have to look on the brighter side (of the experience) because we all know that everything happens for a reason and God has a bigger plan for us.”

4th Impact is no stranger to singing contests. Mylene said that they started out as karaoke enthusiasts. The eldest Almira, however, was able to take up voice lessons on a scholarship. She then passed on her learnings to her sisters.

Initially, it was Almira who was actively joining contests (and even competed against Charice) while the rest of the girls took on dance shows. During one birthday gathering, they were asked by relatives to sing together for the first time. The girl band was born.

Their first-ever competition was FamJam on the now-defunct QTV-11. This was followed by more talent shows — TV5’s Talentadong Pinoy, GMA’s Protégé as well as ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime and the World Championships of Performing Arts in the US. According to their bio, they also did gigs in between like doing back-up for Sarah Geronimo.  

Last year, their vocal talents brought them to the Korean reality show SuperstarK where they reached the finals. A YouTube video of their version of Let It Go on the show went viral. One commenter posted: “Why don’t you join X Factor UK?” That gave them ideas.

In January, 4th Impact submitted to the show a video link of a performance. They were told to expect an e-mail by February informing them if they got accepted. No e-mail came. “So we decided to go home to the Philipines after Korea. Then in May, we received an e-mail saying that we had a pass to the arena audition.”

According to 4th Impact, when they got to the UK, they thought they were going to immediately audition before the judges, including Simon Cowell, only to find out that they still had to contend with the long and winding queues of other hopefuls at the arena. 

Nevertheless, they stood out among auditionees because of their Asian looks and their height, Almira mused. “Alam niyo po ang nakakatawa, nung naka pila kami, kami lang yung maliit. Imagine niyo po ang liliit namin tapos balot na balot pa kami. Tapos tinatanong po nila kami kung pwede daw po ba kami kasi ang liliit daw po namin. ‘Are you six years old?’ Gumaganon po sila. Sabi nila, ‘Where you from?’ ‘We came all the way from the Philippines.’”

Filipino contestants (or those with Pinoy lineage) are not uncommon in international talent-reality programs. In fact, around the time 4th Impact was on X Factor UK, the Voice US had Amy Vachal and X Factor Australia had Cyrus Villanueva (who became the eventual winner). But the staff of X Factor UK were floored by the thought that they flew across the globe to try their luck in the reality show. It seemed so hard to believe that Cowell had to issue denials to the British press that the group was personally invited to participate in the show.

The girls said they invested a lot to make that happen. They also had a lot of help from their management Magic Moments, which took care of their roundtrip airfare tickets to the UK.

When they joined the show, 4th Impact had no big expectations. “You know, the first time we went up the arena for the audition, we were not expecting it would make us known in the Philippines. Because in each and every level of the competition, we were focused on how to impress Sir Simon. That was our goal. But the Lord has been so good because Filipinos have given us their full support. Ito na po yata yung hindi namin makakalimutan dahil ang buong Pilipinas po talaga ay nakasubaybay sa amin.

It wasn’t just the Pinoys though. Creating an impact right away with their version of Bang Bang during the arena audition, the group became one of the favorites ---— up until they got booted out of X Factor late November for getting the lowest number of public votes.

When they got eliminated, Almira shared that other judges approached them on stage. “Nag-sorry po sa amin si Rita Ora, nag-sorry rin po si Nick Grimshaw. Simon congratulated us, ‘Well, done, girls.’ He also told us that we should not stop, that it’s (a) good thing that we’re part of the tour and that we’re going to enjoy it.”

As for X Factor UK judge and their mentor, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, whom the girls described as like their big sister, Almira said that she did all she could to console them. “Talagang lahat na po yata ng ma-a-advice n’ya para lang ma-comfort n’ya kami that night nasabi na nya. She told us, this is just the beginning. Don’t stop, don’t stop.”

Apart from gigs around UK this month, there are also offers for 4th Impact to perform in different parts of the world like the US, Australia, Canada and Dubai.

“It’s nothing definite yet, but we have been receiving a lot of offers na nakaka-overwhelm... S'yempre po sasabihin po namin yan officially pero ngayon, nothing is finalized pa po (pati yung) sa pag-uwi namin,” the girls, who will be spending Christmas in the UK, said.

The sisters hope that people who have watched their journey on X Factor UK will glean some inspiration from their story — how the hard work, the sacrifices and the persistence have paid off for them. 

Celina said, “Actually, that’s what most of the fans are telling us, na parang grabe naman tong magkakapatid na to, di talaga nag-give up. They are inspired by that. So, never give up on your dreams because there’s (always) that perfect time to reach (for your dreams).”

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